Sky News has learned that Ranjit Boparan, who has built one of the country’s largest casual dining groups through a series of buyouts, is going to buy GBK through pre-pack administration.
The deal is expected to take place later this week, and potentially as early as Wednesday.
It is expected to save around 650 jobs and 35 of GBK’s restaurants, meaning dozens more are set to shut down permanently with the loss of several hundred jobs.
Boparan Restaurants is believed to have ruled out competition from the new owners of GBK’s rival burger chain, Byron, to strike a deal.
The deal will be the latest in a series of deals that have reshaped the UK casual dining industry since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
GBK’s current owner, Famous Brands based in South Africa, had indicated that he would not provide additional funding to support the UK operation, which before the pandemic operated from 62 outlets and employed nearly 1,300 people.
The chain underwent financial restructuring in 2018 in the form of a voluntary corporate agreement that resulted in the closure of dozens of restaurants.
Heads of reception have warned that a second nationwide lockdown will result in hundreds of thousands of job losses in the industry, with regional restrictions already exacerbating the crisis facing pub operators and other entertainment groups.
Few restaurant chains have been able to survive the COVID-19 period without some form of restructuring, with companies such as Burger King, the owner of Wagamama, Prezzo and the Casual Dining Group all resorting to insolvency processes, emergency auctions or fundraisers.
Wahaca, the channel co-founded by former Masterchef Laureate Thomasina Miers, recently entered into a voluntary company deal to put it on a stronger financial footing.
Deloitte manages the administration of the pre-pack GBK.
Mr. Boparan also owns the Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Fishworks chains.
None of the parties involved commented on Wednesday morning.